To be transgender is when one’s gender identity does not match their assigned sex at birth. Every Othello has their own Iago. Transphobia is prejudice against transgender people. Leelah Alcorn, a victim of transphobia, ended her suicide note with the following: “The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights.” How many lives have to be lost for us to care? Why is it that the wind which cools our skin is wind in which the shouts of pain and screams of terror glide? Right in front of our eyes human beings are suffering. Trans people are being bullied, killed, discriminated against. Our fellow sisters and brothers are ashamed of their identities. How has it become okay to be scared of who you are? How can we stop transphobia from seeping into the singing lungs of our people? We need to teach our children that it doesn’t matter what one’s gender identity and sexual orientation are; we are all human beings, and should be treated as such. We have to teach in schools that just as color is a spectrum, just as not everything is only black and white, sexuality and gender identity are spectrums, with no default set in stone. We have to teach sexual orientation and gender identity as a social norm in our schools. We need to make this change because violence and murders against trans people, suicide and mental illness among transgender people are due, primarily to transphobia. If acceptance, in terms of gender identity and sexual orientation are taught about in schools at an early age, transphobia will be greatly reduced.
Every day, someone is being chased down and grabbed by the hating hand of transphobia. There is a “one in twelve risk of trans women being murdered by cis people. Or one in eight if you happen to be a trans woman of colour,” (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2012/05/murder-statistics-of-transgender-people/). “Furthermore, people who identify as transgender were 28% more likely to experience physical violence than those who are gender normative,” (http://www.glaad.org/blog/violence-against-transgender-people-and-people-color-disproportionately-high-lgbtqh-murder-rate). “A nationwide survey of bias-motivated violence against LGBT people from 1985 to 1998 found that incidents targeting transgender people accounted for 20% of all murders and about 40% of all police-initiated violence,” (http://www.transgenderlaw.org/resources/transfactsheet.pdf). Think about how many people had to suffer for these statistics to be made. We cannot ignore these numbers any more. We have to stop subconsciously justifying our guilt by hiding behind half-truths and forgotten riots. Alex Medeiros (assigned male gender at birth) was brutally beaten to death by her father. Her father’s reasoning was that it was needed because Alex refused to cut her hair short, liked women’s clothing, and enjoyed dancing. Alex was eight years old. If Alex’s father had been taught his whole life that there was nothing wrong with being transgender, would Alex have celebrated her ninth birthday on February 18th? (http://tdor.info/memorializing-2014-2/). Do we let this little girl slip through the cracks, allow what killed her to continue to claim victims? “More the 82% of transgender youth reported that they felt unsafe at school because of who they were. Nearly nine out of ten reported experiencing transphobic… harassment from peers… 76% reported that they had experienced unwanted sexual remarks or touching from peers,” (http://www.transequality.org/PDFs/US%20Civ%20Rts%20Commn%20NCTE%20statement%205%206%2011.pdf). These are people who have to feel a stranger’s hands on their body because of their gender. These are people who are afraid to get up every morning and go to school because of who they are. If the people who are bullying these youth are taught at a young age that being transgender is a social norm, the likelihood of this malicious mess continuously happening is greatly diminished.
“New analysis of responses to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) shows that transgender respondents who experienced rejection by family and friends, discrimination…or violence have a higher risk of attempting suicide. 78 percent of survey respondents who suffered physical or sexual violence at school reported suicide attempts, as did 65 percent of respondents who experienced violence at work,” (http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/suicide-attempts-among-transgender-and-gender-non-conforming-adults/). These people who tried to take their lives went through bullying at school, and they faced discrimination at work. These people faced ignorance and dislike from their families. If these families were educated on being transgender and the hardships and insecurities that come with it, would their trans family members feel more accepted, been able to combat their depression more easily, if not avoid it completely?
“Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something,” (Leelah Alcorn’s suicide note). Teaching sexual orientation and gender identity in schools at an early age can prevent the spread of transphobia, and can communicate acceptance and equality. Suicides, mental illness, violence, murders; all of these things directed at trangender people as a result of transphobia can virtually disappear. We need to make a change, to leave someone alone and in the dark, scared and cold; that is not who we are. We are better than that. We are the beings who said we wanted to walk on the moon which moves our waters and we did. We are the children of the seas, who began on the ocean floor, but learned how to reach to the stars. We can do anything, so let’s not leave our children crying in the dark. Let’s teach others how to be accepting. Let’s teach them that we were not born into a freak show, but were born into a world teeming with beauty and difference. Let’s teach gender identity and sexual orientation in schools. Let’s teach them what it means to be human.